Life & Blog Update (November 2020)

Featured image description: White text on a pink background that says: “Life & Blog Update (November 2020)”. On the right is the a logo for the blog, ”Trans Autistic Feminist” (a gold neurodiversity helix on a black trans symbol) with the blog name in purple.

CW for discussion of fertility, transphobia, ableism 

Hi all, 

I’ve been quiet on here lately and in general regarding my transition and everything else in my life. Hence, I’m going to ramble a bit because lots of good, yet big things are happening in my life.

Transition update: 

Next weekend, I have my psychiatric assessment for a gender dysphoria diagnosis and referral for hormones. In the UK, this is an essential part of the process of accessing hormones here. I won’t go into the specifics aside from that I need to be as confident as possible and be careful of what I say to avoid gatekeeping. Considering the stage of the transition I am at there shouldn’t be an issue, but I’m still worried I may say the wrong thing or be too honest as this has bitten me in the past a lot. 

I also have another appointment next week concerning gamete storage. I didn’t know this at the time I started. Still, each patient who goes to the gamete service I’m using can have up to three attempts to get a sample to freeze their sperm if the embryologist suggests it. The second and third attempts are free, whereas the first attempt has a fee. Well, due to the stressful process, I have been struggling to produce a large sample and am now on my final attempt.

So as you can see, I have to make sure this last sample is right. I’m more confident this time around. Hence I hope I have a large enough sample after this attempt.

Hence the last couple of weeks, I’ve mainly been sitting around and playing games for self-care purposes when I’ve not been working on my course or planning my future. I will also do mainly for the next week or so as all of this is incredibly stressful. 

Regarding my life & recovery

I’ve made a lot of progress, and that is for many reasons. I’ve been able to stabilise my life a bit, start to get a bit of routine going and slowly working on my skills in a positive environment. I’m also progressing in therapy and learning to manage my cPTSD triggers too – another huge step.

I had to end my crowdfunder early because I’m not mentally strong enough to deal with processes where I’m likely to be repeatedly rejected at the moment. i.e. private renting in the UK. Hence I redirected deposit money on top of crowdfunder funds and money from selling my stuff. In hindsight, this was the right thing to do as being able to mentally ground myself has enabled me to think things through very carefully and improve wellbeing.

Given the Westminster government mishandled both COVID and Brexit, this has narrowed my employment prospects to the point where it’s unlikely any young disabled person (not just me) – will find work.

This is also on top of the fact I am scared to look for work here. The main factor is the hostile, transphobic climate here (made worse by the fact I have to out myself to any employer I work at. This is because I cannot update my HMRC gender marker (which I talk more about in this article). The ableist, punitive nature of UC also is a factor because if whatever job I apply for and get doesn’t work out, I will lose a month’s income. I can’t put myself in that position again. 

Planning a way forward

Hence, I am currently in the early stages of planning a migration to the Republic of Ireland next year. I am hoping to do a Masters at a university there but if not that, get a job and get off this bigoted island that has caused my life chances to deteriorate. Because of the rights granted under Common Travel Area to British citizens (including rights to social housing and homelessness support like a citizen of that country), this is a realistic possibility for me and many other people in the UK looking to leave. This would be a long term move with the intention to work towards Irish citizenship to get my European citizenship / rights back. I will never live in this country again once I’m out unless I would not survive otherwise. Here is more information about it for those curious

If anybody has any advice on relocating to Ireland (especially regarding transferring ADHD medication and HRT over from the UK, which is something I haven’t been able to look into yet), I’d appreciate it. I’ve been praised a lot for my research so far which says a lot about my mental wellbeing, but the more advice, the better. 

Changing my approach to disclosure

I’ve also decided something arguably even more significant – I’ve decided to change my name again and go stealth. 

I’m not ashamed to be trans – far from it. But I am done dealing with cis people’s transphobia and bigotry. This was made more dangerous by the fact that I was open and honest with services, even those that were openly transphobic. I can’t stop bigotry from others, but I can reduce the opportunities they have. If they don’t clock me or find out in advance, they are less likely to do anything. 

I also wanted to be stealth all along – long before I even revamped my blog. As a trans autistic person, it is easier for me to be an openly autistic woman rather than openly transgender. I feel being openly autistic can help me pass as cis, especially as I admittedly have passing privilege. I have to disclose my disability to do well in the job market as I need accommodations, but revealing my gender does not reap the same benefits. If I was open about both and people discriminated against me, I wouldn’t know the exact reason unless it was apparent, such as certain slurs. Whereas if I’m openly autistic but pass as a cis woman, it would be obvious I’m being discriminated against on ableist grounds. Hence this is easier to process and navigate. 

My abusers took the option to go stealth away from me because they outed me to so many people without my knowledge or consent. They even emphasised this and showed a complete lack of regard for my feelings multiple times. This included their friends who I know nothing about but who know me, meaning there is a huge power imbalance. In a country where a hostile press and government regularly endorse transphobia, I fear this could be taken advantage of by higher powers if I was to become famous for whatever reason. 

Hence by changing my name again, I am taking this control back from them and subsequently disempowering their circle of influence in the process. I had initially been open to try to take back control and own my narrative, which I did. However, with the challenges I face and my need to thoughtfully plan my future with a focus on migrating and protecting my wellbeing, it is no longer possible.

Once this control is back, and my documents are updated, I can fully close the door on everything that has happened and get on with my life. I want to move on, and I’m sick of talking about this over and over again. In the context of recovery and surviving abuse is an excellent thing. It shows there’s nothing more for the survivor to process about the past aside from minor things like coping mechanisms for individual triggers. This will also help me commit to my relocation plan fully. 

How does this affect my blog? 

I’m not 100% sure yet. I may tweak the branding of my blog to de-emphasise the trans aspect somewhat. I’m going to keep using Milla as my name on here because frankly I love the name too much and don’t want to change it, but I have to for my safety.

I’m also planning to not talk as much about my personal experiences from now on aside from publishing my responses to the Parliament evidence calls regarding transgender rights (closing on 27th) and disability rights (closing next month) respectively. This is because I can get all my experiences down and used in a constructive way. I also want to publish another UK politics post at some point because moving up North has helped me understand what the left faces in more depth.

I’m considering moving towards doing some more reviews, especially regarding the LGBT games I have in my games collection. This is also partially because – to put it frankly – I miss games journalism and would love to go back to rambling about games somewhat. I did do a series in the past called Subtly Subjective where I talked about games from an autistic perspective, and while I did enjoy it, it felt out of place on here. But in hindsight, maybe not? I also have a considerable backlog of LGBT books I need to read through (as well as some neurodiversity ones). 

I also plan to write blog posts about my experiences accessing private HRT and private gamete storage to help others who are interested. The more resources people have, the better. I also may do the same regarding relocating abroad to Ireland as a disabled trans person if people are interested in it.

So in a nutshell, I’m safe and well. I’ve been through a lot over the past few years, and it’s only now things are starting to stabilise and go my way. The worst is over, but there’s still some way to go before I get to where I want to be – and I will get there. Thank you to those that have helped me get to this point, including my online friends. I also thank again those who donated to the crowdfunder before I ended it early, being able to start the steps to book appointments helped a lot.

Either way, that’s all for today, and hopefully, I’ll have something else to publish in the next few weeks. 

Milla xx 

Why The Individualist Mindset Fails Homeless People

Featured image description: White text on a pink background that says: “Why the Individualist Mindset Fails Homeless People”. On the right is the a logo for the blog, ”Trans Autistic Feminist” (a gold neurodiversity helix on a black trans symbol) with the blog name in purple.

CW mentions of various kinds of bigotry, abuse, death, government abuse, suicide, alcohol mention

Hi all, 

Recently I had a conversation with a friend about my ongoing situation. One of the things she said to me was along the line of “see Milla, this is why the neoliberal idea of individual responsibility [aka the individualist mindset] mostly doesn’t align with human psychology.” Despite not knowing much about psychology, it resonated a lot with me as this was something I realised was the case with me.

What is individual responsibility? 

In a nutshell, it’s basically the idea every person has responsibility for themselves. If they want to get somewhere, they have to work hard for it, and they will get there. In other words, the more somebody works to achieve their goals, the more successful they are in theory. They will have more money and more success as everybody has equal opportunities. It doesn’t work like that in reality as it ignores how bigotry and stereotypes harm marginalised people, likewise how capitalism is not fair to anyone without money. 

It also ignores an essential aspect of human diversity. Some people simply do need help to achieve things, no matter how responsible they are or how much initiative they take. Humans are more interdependent on each other than autonomous beings, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It ignores the fact some humans initially need help to do things that they can do more autonomously in the long run. This is also a key belief that is part of the disability rights movement.

Applying this to homelessness

An excellent example of this is homelessness, which is one of the many tricky situations where “individual responsibility” will not help people resolve them.

Homeless people are often scared and traumatised and also do not have the money or connections to house themselves. Many of them are also more likely to be marginalised such as being disabled, LGBTQ+ or addicted to drugs/alcohol. All of these are structural issues that cannot be solved simply by individuals making decisions. They can only be solved through government policy and accurate knowledge that is passed down through training. 

This reality contradicts the predominant messaging that says people need to take individual responsibility, Hence. What this message actually is saying is that systematic issues are not something that governments and broader society want or should take responsibility for. 

Individual responsibility will not stop autistic meltdowns, which are caused by the environment around an autistic person that they cannot control. This lack of understanding by providers is something that makes many services dangerous for autistic people, including homeless accommodation.

Individual responsibility won’t stop the fact that even if people try their best to save money, they are still being underpaid, to begin with. Hence, they may have to resort to things like sex work, moonlighting and petty theft just to survive.

Individual responsibility will not stop the overwhelming urges to continue dangerous habits due to the cycle of dependency and the lack of access to support to recover.

Individual responsibility will not prevent the various kinds of bigotry that makes people homeless.

Here is a very blunt meme to set the scene for what I’m about to say next: 

Personal experience

As somebody who has been failed due to this mindset for many months, it upsets me how much this mindset is rampant in services and government. I tried very fucking hard to get housed and was autonomous as much as possible, and it would never be enough.  I know first hand this mindset does not help.

  • I pre-emptively reached out to a lot of support in good faith and expected to eventually get what I needed. 
  • I pushed my limits as an autistic person by working full time and commuting for hours a day, which was unsustainable but was only done due to the deteriorating situation. 
  • I fled for my life from a familiar, yet unsafe environment with no plan aside from a place to sleep that night because time ran out.
  • I persisted chasing up people (who didn’t actually care for my wellbeing) as best as I can. 
  • I continued dealing with toxic people who I used to trust because I left them with no warning, and they still had most of my belongings. 
  • I repeatedly got the police off my back because I didn’t trust them period – even when free legal advice was offered. 
  • I dealt with identifying burnout and trauma triggers and began to learn coping mechanisms to not harm those around me, as l began to come to terms with 20 plus years of childhood abuse. 

Most importantly, I fled up north to an entirely new area because I was failed so badly by services down south.  This was because I realised I was not going to get help because people assumed:

  • I could get housed myself at the age of 23
  • I had friends and family I could move in with
  • could process lots of resources and act on them despite being in a state of trauma which makes processing info impossible
  • It was OK to gatekeep me for any reason, as due to being disabled I’d be more likely to give up
  • They were ok with my trauma being prolonged as they didn’t care for my welfare as they weren’t responsible for it (even if it was fatal).
  • They were just outright prejudiced against disabled and/or transgender people.

The silver lining

On the bright side, I’ve grown so much from my experiences and shattered my own expectations. I lived like somebody my age (minus the homelessness) for the first time in my life. I lived as myself. I’ve transitioned as much as I can. I’ve found somewhere I can call home until it’s time for me to emigrate off this island. I’m able to reach out into the community.

However, I shouldn’t have had to do it in such awful circumstances and worsened by services to the point where my trust for services has been completely destroyed. The cliff edge between education and work is real for any disabled person. Still, for me, it was unnecessarily steep to the point where my trust in services has been destroyed. I won’t reach out for help going forward if I don’t have to.

With all the above said, please bear it in mind I address how this mindset from services leads to harm.

How individualism affects the operation of services

Services that are driven an individualist approach that is not fit for purpose, and other related ideas, namely that:

  • Somebody who doesn’t accept whatever is offered or get on their knees and begs for it (literally and metaphorically) is not trying hard enough
  • Service users are meant to keep going around and asking people to help until somebody agrees to help or wait several times.
  • People should tell their life story to each service they engage for the chance that they may offer help. In reality, they’ll often reject people for no good reason and never deal with them again.

I elaborated on the above points in more details in this article.

All of this sustained, relentless trauma would be hard for any survivor. However, for multiply marginalised survivors, it is even more challenging to deal with. It stops people reaching out for help which is often the only option left to protect their mental health. That’s not refusing to take responsibility for their life, that’s protecting themselves from further harm – there is a huge difference.

However, as these services are influenced by the individualist mindset, they would blame the service users (usually partially, but often entirely). “She stopped contacting us? Guess she didn’t need us after all LOL,” they say, not acknowledging that they ejected her in the first place with no chance of appeal. Or, “guess he’s finally taken responsibility for himself, glad he is off our list” when he managed to learn coping mechanisms for himself that may or may not be healthy, such as drinking alcohol daily.

Alternatively, the most dismissive prospective is “the fact they’ve stopped reaching out means they obviously didn’t try hard enough, and thus doesn’t deserve our support AHAHAHAHAHA.” When in reality, people who disengage from shitty services are taking individual responsibility for their welfare because these services have no interest in doing so.

Or, to take the good faith approach for the sake of balance, they are so overworked they lose track of their clients or can’t allocate support for everyone. That said, even when there are funding constraints, bigoty and individualism persist.

Services are meant to help people. And that requires a collectivist mindset, which is the precise opposite of what services provide. It is only now I can get support from LGBTQ+ oriented services regarding both housing and employment. The collectivist support prior to this came from people who knew me personally, such as those who offered me a place to stay, for example. In other words – socialism. 

Individualism in a wider UK political context

I’ve had lots of thoughts about social class in the UK, which I will ramble about at length in another post. Still, a key point relevant to this is that the individual responsibility mindset means that solidarity in the UK doesn’t exist on a societal level. Services and authorities don’t consider it on a massive scale, and even if they did, the funding just isn’t there nor accurate understanding of service users. People are being sent on their way to deal with their problems themselves with no regard for the consequences. For many of the most vulnerable and marginalised people, this is a death sentence. 

For the majority of people in England primarily, they are complicit in the state-sanctioned murder of marginalised people (whom die largely due to mistreatment by services from all sectors). Even if they say otherwise, that’s what their actions show. Their actions are rooted in political apathy (or if they aren’t apathetic, they support the pushers of this mindset – Blairites, Starmites, centrists, conservatives and fascists). Both apathy and political participation from these people embody the individual responsibility mindset.

Much of this is due to brainwashing over decades of right-wing government policy (including New Labour, who were right wing), meaning that they distance themselves from those that have been failed the most by society and refuse to face reality. Usually they say nothing, but can also manifest through laughing at them over reality TV shows like Big Brother and The Jeremy Kyle Show in the guise of entertainment. Hence, the vast majority of complicit people do not realise that this internalised feeling of alienation from them is harmful. As it is, The Jeremy Kyle Show was finally cancelled in 2019 but only after a former guest took their own life.

However, intentions don’t negate the impact. The number of homeless people on the streets begging for change in the UK embodies this. A minority of them actually prefer to stay homeless due to being failed by services. Instead, they find it easier to live a life on the streets than try to get back into employment and secure housing. For them, it’s too distressing and traumatic to adjust back out of this. I never slept street homeless so won’t elaborate on this further, but I will state that services will never accept responsibility for forcing those people into that position.

If it wasn’t for individuals with a collectivist mindset who helped me – likewise a relocation up to another part of the country where more services helped me – I would have died months ago. My future now is looking bright – it’s not perfect, but compared to a year ago it is a vast improvement. I was one of the lucky ones.

The importance of fostering collectivism

It’s essential to not forget those who aren’t so lucky nor privileged. That means trying to foster solidarity with other people and a collectivist mindset. This is much easier said than done, especially in a country where political apathy, tone policing and ad hominem attacks are rampant partially due to the individualist mindset. Likewise, those who are so used to an individualist society around them, adjusting in such a way will be difficult. It is challenging for me – as it is complicated by a lifetime of trauma and internalised bigotry I am still unpacking. This is especially important for services whom are often the last line of support for those that have no one else to turn to.

Do it for those that have died – and will die – as a result of society failing them. Even if only for yourself – after all, dear reader, could be made homeless at any time.

Milla xx

If you wish to support me, I have a Ko-fi you can donate to here. I don’t expect donations but I appreciate them. Thanks!

What I Learnt Revisiting Childhood Games in 2020

Featured image description: White text on a pink background that says: “What I Learnt Revisiting Childhood Games in 2020″. On the right is the a logo for the blog, ”Trans Autistic Feminist” (a gold neurodiversity helix on a black trans symbol) with the blog name in purple.

Hi all,   

Lately, I’ve been a bit exhausted by various political issues happening in my country. So after the last two quite serious posts, I’m going to talk a bit about something more lighthearted. I’m going to talk about replaying (and actually finishing) many childhood games during my long period of homelessness and what I learnt from it.

A bit of background  

I used to be pickier with games growing up in some ways. If a game didn’t hook me immediately, I’d stop playing it and usually sell it after a while. I wasn’t sure why as a kid, but later as an adult, I’d realise a lot of it came down to the slow burn nature of many games, especially Japanese RPGs.   

Instead, what I do remember, was becoming more interested in games like Dragon Quest, Persona and most regrettably, Hyperdimension Neptunia. I think the lighthearted cartoon aesthetics those games had helped draw interest there. Additionally, the linearity for many of those games in comparison to something more open like Xenoblade was less overwhelming for me. I can understand why this would be the case, but it led to missing out on what were many of the best games for the Wii, 3DS and other platforms back in the day.  

It was only a couple of years prior I had finally left games journalism. This was partially due to the burnout that was caused by having to review video games to tight deadlines. Many of these games were not accessible to some degree, such as PC games (because I find playing on a PC complicated) and games with lots of grinding. Since then, I was learning to re-enjoy my hobby, especially as lockdown and prolonged homelessness/trauma meant I couldn’t even attempt to address employment issues. Hence one goal I set was to try to beat some of the games I didn’t play as a kid.   

Two fashionably late RPG reattempts

The first title was the Switch version of Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. It quickly became one of my favourite games due to the epic world-building, storyline and music. Additionally, the revised gameplay (and accessibility tweaks) meant this was perhaps one of the most accessible and easy-to-play RPGs I’ve ever played. After around 60 plus hours of playing the game, it emerged as one of my favourite games.   

I don’t remember much of the original, aside from that I didn’t get far. However, the lack of accessibility features, the confusion over where to go and the visually bland art style was likely why I lost interest. All of these were standard features of older RPGs in particular, meaning players often had to resort to guides to work out how to proceed.   

The other game was the 3DS version of Tales of the Abyss. A while after it came out back in the day, I got it from a game shop when I picked up a copy with an incorrect price tag on. I played it for a couple of hours, then sold it a while later.   

During the lockdown, this was another game I picked up again. This was partially due to being stuck in unsuitable accommodation where I could do little else but survive, so it was essential self-care. I knew going in again two things – it’s considered one of the best Tales of games and the main character, Luke, is an incredibly selfish asshole for the first arc of the game. After playing it, that game too became one of my favourites. Much like Xenoblade, the story and world-building were fantastic, as were the characters (including the asshole’s complete 180-character development mentioned arc earlier).   

The grand replay   

Super Mario 3D All-Stars was something else I was really looking forward to. This is because this compilation of classic 3D Mario games finally gave me the chance to replay one of my favourite games of all-time portably. That game was Super Mario Galaxy. It was fantastic replaying it again after so many years. Being able to see visual enhancements as well as significant audio improvements by having the music replaying in my headphones helped immensely with immersion, for example.  

I was also able to finally play Super Mario Sunshine as I never had the chance to play the GameCube original. It wasn’t a perfect re-release particularly for Super Mario Galaxy (the motion controls were a barrier for me and completely inaccessible for others). However, a handheld version of Super Mario Galaxy but was something I personally wanted for ages and could access, so in that sense I was satisfied. Everything else was the icing on the cake. However, I do believe this re-release should have been better overall. This is for the following reasons: 

  • inaccessibility 
  • absence of Super Mario Galaxy 2 
  • being a limited-time physical and digital release
  • no physical bonus (unlike the 25th anniversary SNES Super Mario All-Stars re-release on the Wii) 

Curation and accessibility are critical 

The key reasons why I enjoyed these games more – much like gaming in general – are because of the following:   

  • I pick versions with the most accessible formats – this meant prioritising handheld versions of games, plus games with features like turn rewind, accessible difficulty mode, hint movies, option to disable motion controls/vibration etc.)   
  • More maturity
  • More awareness of both gaming and cultural differences meant I could better understand the design approaches many developers took.
  • Better understanding of problematic and triggering content (including both in games and behind the scenes). This is, so I knew what to play and what to avoid. I haven’t played a Hyperdimension Neptunia game for years nor any recent AAA game, for example. 

So, in other words, I learnt to rebuild my love for video games on my terms. Gone were the obligations from reviewing games that meant I could not take my time or drop games I wasn’t enjoying or could not play. Gone was the consumption of inaccessible games which forced lots of grinding and repetition that led to burnout. Gone are the toxic weeaboo and far-right gamer communities I didn’t know I was in till after I left. Various forms of bigotry are commonplace in many gamer spaces. 

It was going back to games from my past and rewriting experiences so that they were more positive all around. It was moving away from mediocre RPGs like Hyperdimension Neptunia and investing time in games that are worth playing. It also meant looking more towards games that have good LGBTQ+ and neurodivergent representation if not directly led by marginalised people themselves.  

It’s time to heal some more

Thinking about this on a deeper level leads to more interesting thoughts. Firstly, this is also another form of empowerment, that can be used to make incredibly traumatic periods of life less so. The comfort, escapism and monotony of video games can aid recovery from bad situations. This helped me during the roughest period of my life to date, both in terms of coping and being able to devote more time to solving my situation constructive. As a result, I become more robust emotionally and skill-wise, plus better able to cope and get stuff sorted.  

To deviate a bit from the initial discussion at the start, this is why many marginalised people used to social isolation are drawn to games, such as LGBTQ+ and neurodivergent people. This is why many of us play games, and others develop them or ramble about them in some way. I do so on my Twitter and is one reason why I tried to crack games journalism in the past. This is why there has been a more significant push for LGBTQ+ representation in video games in recent years as marginalised people got their seat at the table.  

As it is, most of the main protagonists in the games mentioned in this article are cishet men. How different could things have been if I had played a game with a transgender woman as a protagonist? At the time, I thought I was cis. I hence didn’t question representation as abled cishet manhood was society’s default perspective and thus mine. This isn’t to say the cishet male protagonists I played as were terrible – not by a long stretch. Shulk, the protagonist of Xenoblade Chronicles, is a favourite of both Nintendo and Japanese RPG fans for a reason.

The same applied to accessibility, yet as an adult, it is now one of the most important things I look for in games. I hope that as games with marginalised people have full creative control become prominent, we will see regular multiplatform releases. Previously these games were limited only to PC or mostly tokenistic rep in the mainstream space. Celeste is an excellent example of a game that oozes charm only neurodivergent creators could produce. 

Conclusion

If games had more good experiences with LGBTQ+ and accessible content growing up, perhaps this would have helped us mentally. Maybe it would have helped us persist through games and genres with aspects that aren’t particularly enjoyable, such as grinding. For me, this is the underlying message of going back through these games and playing through them properly. A trip through time can put a lot of opinions into perspective. 

Regardless, it’s essential to give us space, safety and accessibility required for us to enjoy games irrespective of age, background and life circumstances. After all, games are for everyone. This includes replaying childhood titles. 

Milla x  

If you wish to support me, I have a Ko-fi you can donate to here. I don’t expect donations but I appreciate them. Thanks!

On Liz Truss, The GRA Reforms + Confirmation Bias

Featured image description: White text on a pink background that says: “On Liz Truss, the GRA Reforms & Confirmation Bias”. On the right is the a logo for the blog, ”Trans Autistic Feminist” (a gold neurodiversity helix on a black trans symbol) with the blog name in purple.

CW transphobia, terfs, fascism mention, pathologisation and domestic abuse mention, ableism

Hi all, 

So, as you will almost certainly be aware, the UK government finally released the long-awaited outcome to the GRA reforms for England Wales and Northern Ireland first planned years ago. In a nutshell, it will get a bit cheaper, it will move online, there will be no rollbacks like was feared in the past, but ultimately the main point of the reforms (depathologising it and making the process more humane) will not be happening. You can read the paper here. 

I have a lot of thoughts now the dust has settled a bit, and seeing as I have not done a post on this blog addressing the GRA exclusively due to my stressful situation, now is the time to do so. Specifically, the broader context going on out of public view that has emerged this week.

Let’s talk about context

Shortly after the government finally published the consultation results, there was a blog post put up by Crispin Blunt, a Tory MP. He heads the multi-party LGBT group in the Houses of Parliament explaining some of the events that happened in Parliament regarding the reforms.

Here is the most relevant extract: 

I regret that the considerable work done in privately agreeing a way forward by the wider LGBT+ lobby both in Parliament and outside, to deliver respect and reassurance around the position of trans people in the UK meeting square on the anxieties of some cisgender women around single-sex spaces for example, and the quality of relationship and sex education in schools, was not adopted by the Government, and does not appear to have been properly understood. It is certainly seems to me that the Minister for Women and Equality’s own appointed LGBT+ advisers and those that serve in the Government Equalities Office have also had their advice disregarded.

I am now releasing the private paper that was agreed by the Officers of the APPG on 8th July 2020. The paper was shared with all the political parties’ own LGBT+ Groups and was discussed fully with the relevant civil society groups. Whilst different organisations had their own order of policy priorities for trans people, it was agreed that the APPG position paper, in light of the government’s apparent position, would represent a satisfactory outcome to the consultation. The paper was offered privately to the government in the wake of the anxieties set off by the Secretary of State when she appeared before the Women and Equalities Select Committee on 22nd April 2020.

Crispin Blunt, Tory MP for Ramsgate and Head of the All Party Parliamentary Group for LGBTQ+ Rights

Firstly, there was lobbying going on after all. A lot of LGBT organisations were claiming behind the scenes stuff is happening with the UK government. However, with the lack of physical evidence available publicly for trans folk to read, it was hard to believe, and it felt nobody was on the side of trans people. After all, that is why people protested. So I’m glad there was confirmation of this existence and some detail.

This was written as a reaction to both the consultation and the statement Liz Truss had written to Parliament (you can read that here). This statement not only showed that in the eyes of the Government it was a low priority matter, but it was also quite telling about Truss’s mindset. For example:

“We have also come to understand that gender recognition reform, though supported in the consultation undertaken by the last government, is not the top priority for transgender people. Perhaps their most important concern is the state of trans healthcare. Trans people tell us that waiting lists at NHS gender clinics are too long. I agree, and I am deeply concerned at the distress it can cause.” 

Liz Truss

In other words – you can have healthcare or self-ID, you can’t have both (even though this binary X or Y is a false choice. It also misrepresents the actual new gender clinic announcement, which was decided long before today. One of these, the Indigo Gender Service, got formally announced this week as well, which I will blog about another time when a bit more is known about it.

“Britain leads the world as a country where everybody is able to lead their life freely and treated with respect and that, for many years, transgender people have been widely accepted in British society; able to use facilities of their chosen gender; and able to participate fully in modern life. 

At the heart of this is the principle of individual liberty. Our philosophy is that a person’s character, your ideas, and your work ethic trumps the colour of your skin or your biological sex. We firmly believe that neither biology nor gender is destiny.”

Liz Truss again

This is gaslighting (with terf dogwhistles included) and shows Truss hasn’t engaged with the issue properly, nor wants to see legitimate structural barriers that harm transgender people. At best, they are just empty platitudes designed to cater to the uninformed and privileged majority that wouldn’t grasp the underlying harm first hand. People want to feel comfortable and reassured that the government are doing the right thing. Hence, statements like this will work on many of its readers and politicians add them for this purpose. It’s a psychological trick. However, there is more to the story. 

This is only the tip of the iceberg. 

I’ve long believed the Gender Recognition Act misrepresentation and bad faith debating of a political issue the average voter doesn’t know much about was Brexit style discourse on a smaller scale. These actions only reinforce this. With the above evidence combined with the results from the consultation, it clearly shows the government’s minimal efforts are rooted primarily in trying to please both the transgender community and terfs. This is fundamentally impossible, because one side supports human rights and science, the other side is bigotry and fascism. Now the average understanding of transgender issues by the public has been reduced as a result. This had led to genuine fears as a result of misinformation and a view that transgender issues are complicated when they aren’t.

Additionally, evidence shows Liz has lied about which groups she has been meeting regarding the GRA. Namely that she did not meet the LGBT Consortium and Trans Media Watch like she claimed and instead only listened to anti-trans hate groups. The Consortium person was just a staff member that was vaguely associated with them. She did meet the Heritage Foundation, a significant driver of the anti-trans movement, in August 2019, as part of her role as Trade Secretary, so it’s likely she talked to them about transgender rights. Her behaviours show she is hiding something so so she has little credibility at this point.

Here is an extract from Baroness Liz Barker, a Lib Dem House of Lords peer, from her speech accusing Liz Truss of this, who said that: 

“[Liz Truss] should come clean, admit that she’s not met with anyone who would be affected by the reforms she has rejected, and address any bias in who she has met. “…This is not an appropriate way for a government minister to behave.” 

Baroness Liz Barker, Liberal Democrats Houses of Lords Member

What Barker is referring to there is when Liz Truss had an Urgent Question session regarding her behaviour around announcing the GRA reforms. This was also put forward by Crispin Blunt which was a good thing to do. Releasing a statement the way she did wasn’t good enough. As for the Urgent Question session, you can read that here or watch that here.

However, Liz shared nothing new or reassuring. All her responses to very valid questions by MPs across the whole political spectrum were repeating contents of the Parliamentary statement I already picked apart earlier. It was one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever watched and considering how evil the Tories are usually, that says a lot. 

Why this is a classic example of confirmation bias 

It is becomingly increasingly clear that Liz Truss isn’t fit to be an MP, let alone the women and equalities minister in charge of reforming an act of law affecting a marginalised group. She has been only seeking out supporting evidence that matches her own anti-trans perspective and refusing to entertain the lived experience of trans people.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to agrees with me!” these people say, purposely omitting the fact that they’ve actively chosen to only speak with people that do and excluding anybody who doesn’t. Only after the transphobe finishes their “consulting” and the people purposely silenced speak out, it becomes clear that said bias was so intense it made the consulting a lost cause all along. To them, the idea of consulting was a lie.

Transphobes will do anything to validate their inaccurate and scientifically invalid perspectives even if it means excluding pro-LGBT people from the conversation. They don’t care about the consequences on trans people even though legal recognition would help protect us from discrimination, homelessness and abuse, among other things. You cannot get transphobes to suddenly come round unless they were already coming round on their own accord and needed an excuse to show this with others.

Therefore, it’s not “Everyone I’ve spoken to agrees with me!”, instead “Everyone I’ve spoken to and have not challenged my views and made me uncomfortable agrees with me.”  

This is also something I can corroborate from my own experience as this behaviour was something my transphobic relatives did despite my best attempts to get them to come round. Hence, as a trans person with lived experience, when I think of Liz Truss after considering all the above, that is what I see.

Liz Truss is a danger to not just the trans community, but any marginalised group in general. That includes cis women as well. She is not fit to be women and equalities minister nor trade secretary (as organising trade deals that are harmful to the UK will affect cis women and marginalised people more, such as higher tariffs on food). She is not even fit to be an MP, and Liz needs to be removed from Parliament immediately. 

With all the above considered, it’s no wonder she purposely chose to do what she did. She chose to discard the results of the consultation, claim it was hijacked by trans people and push anti-trans rhetoric.

The claim trans people hijacked the consultation is untrue. This was debunked by Nottingham Trent University, of which the Equalities Office had contracted to analyse the results ages ago. Also, the 70% statistic said in the news as the number of respondents supporting self-ID was fake. Nottingham Trent University said this number did not exist in the consultation results. The actual number was much higher, and I suspect Truss made it up herself as she likely leaked the initial plans to the press back in June 2020.

Hence, the consultation paper was little more than an inconvenience to this confirmation bias and must be omitted on purpose. It doesn’t fit the narrative Liz wants to craft, hence is why she has treated these reforms the way she has. Speaking of the results, they included highlights such as: 

“Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64.1%) said that there should not be a requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria in the future, with just over a third (35.9%) saying that this requirement should be retained.” 

“Around 4 in 5 (80.3%) respondents were in favour of removing the requirement for a medical report, which details all treatment received.” 

“A majority of respondents (78.6%) were in favour of removing the requirement for individuals to provide evidence of having lived in their acquired gender for a period of time.” 

“The majority of respondents (83.5%) were in favour of retaining the statutory declaration requirement of the gender recognition system. Of those who were in favour of retaining the declaration, around half (52.8%) did not agree with the current declaration wording that the applicant intends to “live permanently in the acquired gender until death”.” 

Extracts from the summary section of the GRA 2004 reform consultation paper

On a wider note, this situation also sums up politics in the UK today. You can have all the statistical evidence on your side and the backing of many credible experts. Still, if the person in charge of making the final decision is a bigot consumed by validating their bigotry, it doesn’t matter. Ad hominem attacks, gaslighting and misrepresentation of arguments are given equal standing and purposely chosen. This isn’t just limited to gender recognition.

Where do we go from here? 

Trans people like myself are tired of the relentless, institutional transphobia that has stemmed from the UK media and far-right groups as a result of the government not nipping it in the bud. This failure did influence the consultation and media coverage over it, turning what should have been a simple administrative change into a culture war battleground that does little more than terrorising marginalised people. Fear leads to us wary of engaging services for fear they will reject us due to pressure or brainwashing put on them by terfs. This is likely what happened to me when I first tried to flee domestic abuse last year.

I’m glad Nottingham Trent highlighted the intersection between autistic people and trans people in the consultation, specifically concerning gatekeeping and having their gender identity invalidated because they’re autistic. This was so important to mention as it shows more needs to be done on an intersectional basis, likewise an accessibility one. Also, the move to online and the cost reduction are the right moves as well on their own merits (but not by themselves).

Terfs genuinely think that self-ID has been defeated by the UK government when this is far from the case and shows how little they know about transgender people. Trans people can update every other document much more quickly and efficiently than the GRA. Likewise, trans people can access spaces much more often than transphobes will ever accept. Hence, transgender rights will eventually be victorious regardless of what bigots say, including self-ID for birth certificates (that isn’t even a valid form of ID).

To achieve that, there will be many things that the trans community and UK government bodies need to act on, specifically: 

  • getting Liz Truss sacked as equalities minister 
  • reforming trans healthcare so it’s fit for purpose 
  • combatting transphobia in broader society, including in the media 
  • ensuring the public have accurate information on transgender issues, specifically for trans kids and the law 
  • reforming the GRA 2004 properly as shown in the consultation
  • ensure non-binary people have legal recognition 
  • protecting trans kids
  • get gender critical feminism decreed to be hate speech 
  • improving the Equality Act 2010 to not only be more inclusive of nonbinary people but also strictly clarify (or ideally remove) the legitimate aim exception not to allow providers to discriminate against trans people 

I’m sure there’s many more, but you get the point. 

Considering the circumstances, I can personally deal with this outcome despite the huge disappointment. Not because I don’t believe the Act shouldn’t be reformed (far from it), but because the result could easily have been far worse. I am glad that rights weren’t rolled back and, in some ways, progressed forward, but this mess was still avoidable and fixable before Boris Johnson became prime minister.  

The GRA needs to be left alone until after the government has sacked Liz Truss at the very least. Nobody should trust the most fascist and intentionally malicious Tory party with reforming it correctly even if they intended to. Hence, if reforms do happen under this administration, there would need to be cross-party involvement.

That’s all for today, 

Milla xx 

PS I recently set up a crowd funder to help kickstart my medical transition privately. Please consider donating to it if you have something to spare. You can view it here. If not, no worries. Thank you so much for reading! 

Why You Shouldn’t Buy the New Harry Potter Game

Featured image description: The default featured image for Trans Autistic Feminist blogposts, with a pink background on the left and blog logo on the right. The white text on the left says the blog title “Why You Shouldn’t Buy the New Harry Potter Game.” The smaller text says “(aka Hogwarts: Legacy)”.

CW: J . K Rowling, transphobia, terfs, fascism, nazis, conversion therapy mention, murder (real and fictional)

Hi all, 

Recently, during the 16th September PlayStation 5 digital livestream event, a long-rumoured game set in the Harry Potter universe was finally announced. Hogwarts: Legacy is an open-world RPG game set in the world of Hogwarts where the player is a blank slate protagonist who carves out their legacy. It sounds pretty promising on paper if you aren’t aware of the broader context of the author. In practice, this announcement only serves to boost a bigoted author who has gradually revealed her bigotry over time. The gender-critical movement (aka one of many arms of the far right). has radicalised J K Rowling.

I don’t have the energy or ability to dig into much of Rowling’s history myself and explain it all to you. I try not to address such crap especially given my situation (hence why there is almost no reference of the said author on my site, and I may be somewhat sloppy in this post because of the stress). But I will include a summary. 

A summary of gender critical feminism’s harmful aims

This situation is incredibly distressing for trans people like myself for many reasons. Gender critical hate speech has the ultimate goal of rolling back rights for all women and LGBT people, but they start with trans people.

  • wrongly imply our existence is a danger to cis women and children,
  • wrongly claim that we are predators and cross-dressing fetishists
  • advocate putting us into single-gender spaces matching our assigned sex at both (and will be dangerous for trans people)
  • barring us from sports, domestic violence refuges and inclusive healthcare
  • advocate “watchful waiting” for medical transition (especially in trans kids), which is conversion therapy
  • they support gatekeeping and pathologizing to the point of suffering and making support inaccessible
  • want us removed from public life and to go stealth, if not end our lives

The wider context though stems beyond trans people. The ultimate aim is to restrict the way women can present and enforce a binary, outdated form of presentation for women and nonbinary people. It is feminism in name only. In reality, it is far-right conservative hate speech that functions like a cult. It is very much in the same way that the far-right have indoctrinated MAGA supporters and Brexiteer gammon into supporting hate.

Many cisgender people do not realise this. Terfs use dog whistles and concern trolling, they harass and doxx people who call them out and threaten them with legal action. They frame the rights for trans people to exist as a “debate” even though they don’t want a discussion; they want to spread hate. Their “debate” in the UK – alongside a complicit and bigoted media – has derailed the Gender Recognition Act reforms and turned a simple administrative change into a fake culture war.

Heck, even J K Rowling’s new book coming out in the near future used many of the transphobic tropes outlined above as part of the murderer’s character. Namely, this fictional murderer is a cis man who dresses as a woman to target and kill cis women. This was published under her pen name Robert Galbraith. Fortunately, the backlash for that has been swift and severe. Rowling and other terfs have threatened libel suits to force trans people into silence and not call out this harm. This is the suffering these bigots want.

This reveal ruined the stream

Frankly, the reveal ruined the whole stream for me and no doubt many others too. It speaks volumes that Sony and Warner Bros. believed platforming a J K Rowling IP during a significant event was a good idea. This shits on the diverse gaming community, including trans people, is. This distresses their trans viewers as well as allies. I had expected this reveal at some point as it had been rumoured for months. However, I had not expected it during such a significant stream. Additionally, the queer adventure game Goodbye Volcano High was revealed at a PS5 digital event just a few months earlier., which is what makes it hurt a lot more. Do Sony actually care about LGBTQ+ rights or not?

It’s very insensitive considering the harm Rowling is doing and shows either they are clueless about this reality – or they don’t care and want to increase sales. They know many gamers do not have principles and will often buy things they got outraged at during reveals when they come out. As it is, many people online have been like “Oh I don’t like what Rowling has done, but I still want to buy this Harry Potter game.” However, the consequences of this go far beyond video games. 

Transphobia has fatal consequences

This is a classic example of why you cannot separate the art from the artist. You cannot separate transgender people from human diversity. They are innately linked, and there’s nothing anybody can do to change this reality. But until the world accepts this, trans people have to deal with a constant risk of being murdered no matter where they are in the world – especially black trans women. Trans people, in particular, are more likely to be in poverty, unemployed and have comorbid mental illnesses due to transphobia. We often cannot defend ourselves from this due to lack of money or poor mental health. Despite what bigots say, love will eventually win.

But the more harmful figures like Rowling are platformed, this progress is reversible, especially when people become manipulated into supporting fascism. The Nazi government in Germany did this back in the 1930s, by burning books and libraries from the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (aka Institute of Sex Research). This library containing decades of LGBT positive research and is one reason why trans healthcare is decades behind where it should be. Yes, literal book burning. And to think many right wingers like to claim the left are “book-burning Nazis.”

Don’t buy the game

I understand how a lot of people – especially those my age and younger – have a lot of nostalgia for the Harry Potter series and are inclined to support the game. And this is a perfectly valid inclination. However, Rowling will likely make royalties off it (even though she is not involved) she doesn’t need or deserve.

Therefore myself, much like the politically active trans community as a whole, urge you not to support this game. Do not buy it. Do not give Rowling or this publisher a penny. I say publisher because in practice the developers won’t make bank off it thanks to capitalism and lack of unionisation, which is an issue across gaming. Buying a copy of Hogwarts: Legacy supports a billionaire who is using her platform and influence to spread hate speech to rollback trans rights. Even if it’s “just a game.” Money talks, especially those who already have wealth.

If you really want to play it, wait until after launch day to pick it up pre-owned. That way, only the seller of the second hand game gets the money. And don’t go round bragging about it on social media or in collection videos, instead keep it quiet that you have it and are playing it. Because trans people and allies will notice and start to doubt that you genuinely have their back and this will be very distressing.

One of my favourite pastimes are video game collection videos and I fear being unable to watch PS4 / PS5 / Xbox One / Xbox Series X videos now knowing it’s possible that game could come up and the person buying it sees no issue supporting a transphobe. For transgender people, our rights to exist is literally a matter of life and death thanks to transphobic cis people. Don’t remind us of that through supporting this video game, a medium popular with trans people.

How you can help: 

I know being an ally can be difficult for cis people to do as they don’t know what to do so that I will help. 

  • Firstly, buy the game second hand if you can’t bear skipping it as mentioned earlier. Otherwise, skip it. Same goes for all other Harry Potter products. 
  • Educate yourselves on trans people and our lived experiences. There are many of us out there. I’ve included some links at the end of this post to help. 
  • Give us money to access healthcare, housing and mental health support. Give us well-paid jobs. Discrimination is still rampant against trans folk. Many of us have to crowdfund to access private healthcare because public healthcare routes are unfit for purpose.
  • Support our content if we are self-employed as many of us have to go self employed in order to work.
  • Boost our voices. Sharing content written by trans people like this one is a great place to start. 
  • Get political. Call out the bigots around you. Assume good faith, but if they turn hostile, don’t be afraid to call them out. Fill in consultations and write to elected ministers about transgender issues. Go to protests if you can access them. 

Anyway, that’s me out. This whole thing is very distressing for me, so for the time being, self-care is needed. With all this said, I am so glad this game is not coming to the Nintendo Switch (my preferred and most accessible gaming platform this gen).

Milla x 

Further Reading: 

Here is an article by Katelyn Burns, explaining how gender critical feminism has risen in prominence

Here is a short essay by Katy Montgomerie, that unpicks Rowling’s arguments and why they are transphobic (a much longer, more thorough breakdown is available elsewhere on her Medium blog)

In the UK, the anti-trans situation has gotten so bad many trans people here are planning to leave the country

One example of J K Rowling threatening a smaller organisation with legal action for calling out her bigotry 

The Wikipedia page for the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, the private sexology research facility where the Nazis burnt the books in 1933 (trigger warning for images of Nazis and book burning)

Even the developers themselves anticipated this mess as they were feeling uneasy before it was revealed

Unrelated to the above external reading links, I recently set up a crowd funder to help kickstart my medical transition privately. Please consider donating to it if you have something to spare. You can view it here. If not, no worries. Thank you so much for reading! 

The Employment Dilemma for Trans + Disabled People

Featured image description: The default featured image for Trans Autistic Feminist blogposts, with a pink background on the left and blog logo on the right. The white text on the left says the blog title “The Employment Dilemma for Trans + Disabled People”.

Content warning: ableism, transphobia, masking, ABA mention

Hi all, 

I’ve had a lot to process regarding employment as of late, so I will be writing a bit about what’s on my mind so other people can understand the dilemmas of disabled and/or trans people entering employment. Despite having the time and willpower to work, it’s a lot easier said than done. 

As a disabled person, I have to ensure whatever career move I take next is suitable for me. While I’m not sure of the exact area I want to work in, I am pretty open to anything as long as it’s accessible for me. So, in other words, an office job I can do from home at least part-time and where I don’t have to talk to people much.

Note that the disability angle will mainly focus on autism as that is my lived experience, but there will be a lot of overlap with other disabilities and mental illnesses.

To disclose or not to disclose? 

This is the first issue. This question can be broken down even more to the following sub-questions:

  • Is the workplace safe to be openly trans and/or autistic?
  • How much does somebody have to disclose to employers to be able to work the job? 
  • How much is OK to share in general? 

More specifically, when it comes to disability, the main issue is accommodations. The more somebody can conceal their support needs, the fewer problems at work they may have to deal with (including being fired and/or not hired). This can also include coping with trauma and mental health triggers, which will often have negative consequences for the person’s career – even if they don’t harm anyone. 

A lot of disabled people hide their disabilities from employers as a result and advise others do the same – as employers can quickly get away with being ableist, despite initiatives. For example, the UK’s Disability Confident scheme is widely discredited in the disability community, partially because the guarantee of an interview to all disabled people who meet the criteria isn’t enforced. Additionally, all a company has to do if they don’t want to hire a disabled person is to claim that “they’ve found somebody who is a better cultural fit” and move on. 

If a disabled person does try to hold their employer to account – whether during recruitment or unfair dismissal – the odds are stacked against them. This is partially due to a lack of legal aid, but also because it risks them being blacklisted from other firms. Employers don’t want people that they think would cause them hassle, and sharing too much is not a good idea, as it can be used against them later. 

Of course, hiding disabilities is only really possible for those with invisible disabilities – as, for people with visible disabilities who need aids, this isn’t an option for them. 

Work relationships vs personal relationships boundaries: 

This is something else I have also struggled to understand. What is appropriate for what relationship? When is it OK to move people from colleagues to friends? How do you deal with social media? What is “professionalism?” 

There are no fixed rules regarding this that people follow aside from vague generalisations that depend on culture and industry contexts. There are also general business expectations of behaviour (like relying on Outlook) that employees are expected to instinctively pick up, which is impossible for any autistic people to do (I will return to this later). 

The other expectation is for people that can act as neurotypical as possible (aka so they see you as pleasant and can collaborate with them). All of this can be very difficult for autistic people to pick up. Likewise, things like networking and people to avoid working with are usually found out via the grapevine (especially for abusers). The grapevine is something autistic people find difficult to access. I started to learn some of these things myself before being let go from my last internship, even though a lot of this stuff (in hindsight) feels like things all autistic people should directly be told years before starting work. 

I say this from the perspective of somebody who has unintentionally self-sabotaged career opportunities due to not knowing social rules or accidentally blundering when trying to talk to people regarding work opportunities. The fear I have about this is that I feel I risk being blacklisted by others on ableist grounds then not finding out why until many months later – if at all. Even then, once a person or organisation is blacklisted, it’s very likely the blacklisting will not be reversed for years if at all as there is often no chance of appeal. 

Yet, nobody has ever been able to offer advice for dealing with this, so the only conclusion I could think of is to strictly partition work relationships from personal relationships unless certain circumstances mean it’s a good idea to cross them over. For example, if a personal friend helps someone get a job, they start a business venture together, or somebody makes a genuine friend at work that they get along with over a sustained period. This includes social media.

The minefield of inclusivity 

While there are genuinely inclusive and supportive employers out there, the reality is that it is a minefield and often the most challenging part of employment is sustaining it, not getting it. There is no real way for disabled employees to know which employers genuinely care about inclusivity and diversity – or only get the credentials for PR purposes (such as the very organisers of the Disability Confident scheme themselves). Hence, many disabled people go freelance and/or unemployed, so they can work while also accommodating their support needs as best as they can. 

A lot of inclusivity issues also stem from not understanding how mainstream office culture can cause problems for autistic people. For example, I saw this article today (“Will young workers be the victims of the decline in the office?” 13/09/2020) in The Independent, which discusses whether young people will be the victims of the declining office. It’s an article that argues yes, but completely omits the experiences of disabled adults. 

One example is the following belief, something that is impossible for many autistic and other neurodivergent people to do without direct communication: 

“There are also lots of benefits to informal interaction – something a prearranged video call cannot replicate,” he says, pointing to the ability of new employees in an office to directly observe how colleagues behave, pick up important information, absorb the unwritten rules of the organisation and even its ethical values.” 

Another example is this, something that can lead to discrimination towards women and marginalised groups in the right environment, as well as forcing out disabled people who cannot participate in office politics or social culture.

“Gosling is more concerned about the challenge of retaining the benefits from the social aspects of traditional office life – the gossip, the chats, the collective visits to the pub.” 

In essence, the inaccessibility and deeply rooted ableism in office life already claimed tens of millions of disabled people at some point.

In a way, getting a career going forward will now be more accessible thanks to neurotypicals finally understanding the benefits of working from home. This was thanks to a pandemic, even though they should have listened to disabled people years ago.

Personally, I am incredibly thrilled office culture will never be the same again and is declining. Hence employment will now be easier for neurodivergent people to access. However, employers need to understand they must not force neurotypical abled standards on employees. They still need to listen to disabled people. I am happy to help people I’d work with down the line to a point, but a lot of it is on them. And not knowing what the reaction will be till I’m in the role is a massive source of anxiety. 

Here is an article I wrote back in April 2020 about COVID-19, home working and ableism. 

To go stealth or not go stealth? 

The other issue that is noticeable for trans people is about transitioning and how to balance that around employers. A lot of trans people often prepare to change jobs when they come out, so future employers aren’t aware that they have a trans employee. Many trans people also aren’t able to work as a result of untreated dysphoria and/or transphobia from employers, thus are stuck in the trap of not having the money required to transition. 

Hence, many trans people choose to be stealth at work – especially those with passing privilege – for their own safety and so they can get the money to transition. When it comes to medical appointments and other transition-related care, they may choose to lie or omit information about why they need time off. They may also not speak about their personal lives much to avoid outing themselves by mistake. 

There is also the whole issue regarding surgery and taking time off for that, though I don’t know enough about this to discuss that here.

Additionally, there are two legal barriers in the UK regarding transgender employees I’d like to highlight as they are also factoring into my thinking (and will also be variants of this issue worldwide): 

No GRC means trans people in the UK have to out themselves to HR 

This is because of two reasons: 

Firstly, if a trans person hasn’t updated their documents or they are coming out at their current job, their team will know. This includes HR and other staff who see misgendered/deadnamed documents as part of ID verification. Passport/driving licenses are what is asked at interviews, and this can be updated with each respective office using a different process. This doesn’t mean a trans person won’t be outed to their employer, though. 

This is because the legal gender at HMRC can only be changed with a gender recognition certificate, and there is nothing a trans person without a GRC and/or unable to get one can do. At my last job, when I had to fill in a form for my employer to log my info into HMRC with, I initially put down F because that’s who I am. LI later got summoned to HR, and they told me that they had to change the gender marker to M as my F marker doesn’t match what is on the database. Hence, I had to change it back so it could be submitted to HMRC so I could get paid. It was demoralising for me, but my employer knew I am trans already and was discreet about it, so no harm was done in my case. But that isn’t the case for everyone. 

This is a problem that all trans people in the UK face unless they get a GRC, which is one of many reasons there were calls to reform the GRA (where have we heard this before?). 

No GRC means trans people starting their own companies is also risky 

Yes, there is a loophole with self-employment too. The following applies to trans people who start their own company and become a company director or majority shareholder (referred to in UK law as “People with Significant Control”). This is because the current procedures mean trans people legally have to be outed by Companies House upon request due to an obscure legal loophole. This is explained by the following quote from page 59 of the 2019 Corporate Transparency and Register Reform consultation document

“The Companies Act 2006 requires any change of a director’s name to be notified to Companies House and made publicly available on the register. This also applies to [People with Significant Control] (PSC). This includes cases where the person’s name changes as a result of a change in gender. Section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 makes it an offence to disclose information about the gender history of transgender people who have legally changed their gender through obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) where this information has been acquired in an official capacity. However, section 22(4)(j) provides an exemption where the disclosure is made under another enactment. Companies House is exempt from this general prohibition because it makes information public in accordance with the Companies Act 2006.” 

One of the many proposed reforms in the 2019 Corporate Transparency and Register Reform that would allow trans directors and PSCs to apply to have their name hidden. But as of September 2020, the consultation still hasn’t had its results released. Sounds familiar, even though this is the only mention in the entire document. The loophole around this is to become a sole trader, although this does bring the risk of unlimited liability. Which in the world where anti-trans bigots threaten to sue people who call them out often forces trans folk into silence. 

Additionally, for transgender people who are in work, many also intend to pass as cis as part of maintaining a working relationship. Because while cis men do not take cis women and cis passing trans people seriously, they take non-cis passing trans people even less seriously.

Hence this is a scenario where the transgender concept of passing and the autism concept of masking overlap – and both of these issues will take its toll on trans and autistic employees. I also wrote about this ages ago, here is a relevant extract. Note that body language and presentation are two things considered very important in the world of work, and women have it particularly hard. The world of work – without relevant adjustments – also enforces the narrative mentioned in the last paragraph.

Firstly, with being autistic I am not always aware how I come across. So, if my body language doesn’t appear feminine, I likely have no idea that’s the case. Furthermore, even when I try to present feminine it will be very hard to maintain the image as I fundamentally can’t mask.

Additionally, executive dysfunction may also get in the way which may make daily feminine tasks difficult, such as doing makeup to cover up facial hair and shaving body hair. Plus, I have seen cis autistic women that find it difficult to meet these standards or choose not to. It would be very unfair on them to be judged by these same arbitrary standards. 

However, I then realised how much this is similar to masking – and how there is still the widespread ableist assumption that autistic people need to mask to be accepted in wider society. I have talked about this before. We see this pervasive attitude in wider culture and through how ABA is being forced on autistic children from a young age in an attempt to “normalise” them with no regard for their mental wellbeing. 

And the reason why both passing and masking are problematic is because they blame the autistic trans person for their own differences. Basically, the narrative says that both autistic people and trans people alike (regardless of whether they are both autistic and trans) aren’t good enough as they are. In other words, the narrative says they are not who they identify as, they are what other people decide they are.

My personal, less objective, conclusion

The conclusions I’ve tentatively come to is that it is very tempting to conceal my gender and disability-related support needs as much as possible. I don’t like the thought of having to go stealth at work about these aside from: 

  • HMRC stuff as outlined above 
  • Any time off requests for medical transition appointments 
  • accommodations that aren’t vital for the job 
  • Anything else that my employer needs to know and that I can’t get away with not disclosing. 

Bear in mind much of this stems from avoidable trauma I got from people I have disclosed and been open to. And frankly, I do not have the energy to deal with that going forward, despite the thick skin I developed from it. While I am moving on and slowly mitigating the trauma, trying to mitigate further harm and obstacles is very important to me. However, I am hoping that as time goes by I will feel more able to take the risk of disclosing my needs again and being open like before (but not too open as oversharing is also something I did at my last role).

I know that masking in work like that would likely be very damaging for me as it is for many autistic people, and being myself is vital for motivation. I love who I am and am proud of myself and everything I have achieved, and I shouldn’t have to hide that. 

In hindsight, I overshared at my last role about said issues – again, partially due to trauma and disassociation – which may have factored in being let go. I am grateful to my previous employer for treating me as well as they did because I could have been treated a lot worse. 

I am still contemplating self-employment. As much as I’d like to be self-employed, that could take years to become sustainable enough to migrate, so I may end up having to do a Masters just to help me get out of England. Which in all honesty isn’t a good enough reason by itself, but depending on what I do may be useful in other ways too. Fortunately, I am open to pretty much anything work-wise I can do.  

Regardless of what I decide to do, I just want to get this employment dilemma worked out and mastered so I can medically transition, get my life stabilised and get out of this country for good. I don’t regret being open to the extent I was – and I’m glad I was as it was the right thing to do at the time.

The more objective conclusion

In short, there are a lot of structural barriers to work that have been touched on in this piece. Some of them can be helped by the world of work – to any employers reading this, please listen to your disabled staff and work to make your workplace genuinely inclusive. Please do not follow the same mindset like the person from the Independent article. Please allow form policies allowing trans people to take the time off they need for essential appointments, and do not allow transphobia to take hold in your organisation.

Hopefully, anybody who has taken the time to read this now understands many of the systematic barriers that trans and/or disabled people face regarding re-entering employment. Despite my personal anxieties, I am confident I can find a way forward, and I believe I’ll be in a much better position next year. 

Milla xx 

PS I recently set up a crowd funder to help kickstart my medical transition privately. Please consider donating to it if you have something to spare. You can view it here. If not, no worries. Thank you so much for reading! 

Empowerment Affirmations

Featured image description: White text on a pink background that says: “Empowerment Affirmations.” On the right is the a logo for the blog ,”Trans Autistic Feminist” (a gold neurodiversity helix on a black trans symbol) with the blog name in purple.

Content warning for: mentions of various kinds of abuse, ableism, death

Hi all,

Today I’m going to discuss empowerment in the context of surviving and recovering from abuse, in an affirmative context. This is something I had initially written a while ago, but recently refined. I hope this may be useful to others.

What is empowerment? 

It’s about asserting autonomy. 

It’s stating that you are an adult and you have the right to full control of your life. 

It’s about controlling who is in your trusted circle – and what information you share with whom. 

It’s about building self-confidence – whether from scratch or picking up the pieces that they shattered. 

It’s telling yourself that you matter and are worth so much more than what they thought of you. 

It’s about not putting up with people’s bullshit. 

No, you don’t have to put up with toxic people “for the good of the family,” “because he’s your blood relative” or “you have no other choice.” 

No, you don’t have to get back in contact with any toxic people after you leave “for the good of the family,” “because they’re your [insert relative here]” or “you have no other choice.” 

No, you don’t have to put up with anyone trying to gaslight you about things you know happened to you because “oh they didn’t mean it like that,” “boys will be boys” or “that can’t have actually happened.” 

No, you don’t have to debate your existence to anyone who thinks there are “two sides” to discussions around human rights or harmful therapies or cures. These people do not have your best interests at heart. 

No, you don’t have to engage anyone who makes you feel unsafe in any form. The fear of the unknown is scary – but being in a familiar environment that threatens your life daily will kill you. 

Empowerment is rectifying the mistakes made by said toxic relatives and organisations. 

Said relatives and institutions failed to teach you important things, instead leaving you with perfectly avoidable trauma – that is not your fault. 

These relatives likely had low expectations of you often on bigoted grounds or they just wanted to control you. 

The reasons don’t matter – even if you know what they are or only in part, because getting full conclusions is often not possible. Reasons will not change the reality. 

So, if it means learning independent living skills later than your peers, that is absolutely fine. 

If it means taking longer to learn what authentic relationships are, that is absolutely fine. 

If it means taking longer to learn employability skills or not being able to work at all, that is absolutely fine too. 

No, it doesn’t mean you have to “go to the police!” or get any form of legal/social repercussions for anything they did. 

Not only will it likely not be worth it due to the police systematically being biased against anyone who isn’t a cis white man, but you know the truth. 

You also know people who have been through similar experiences or other genuine friends will support you. 

Empowerment is saying to those that failed you that you are better than them. 

That’s not being arrogant – it’s stating reality. Taking steps to better your life and shatter their expectations even if just for your own benefit is one of the best things you can do in response. 

Empowerment is understanding what support you need and getting help on your terms. You likely won’t get where you want to be without some help, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept help from just anyone. 

It’s better to be selective and ensure you get the right help for you, rather than accept anything that is unsuitable – often the first thing offered. This is especially the case for marginalised groups. 

For genuine things that you know you genuinely can’t do, it’s your right to choose who helps you do these. This is so you can ensure they have your best interests at heart and trust is maintained. 

You don’t have to accept help from your abusers. 

You don’t have to accept help from predatory organisations that will fail to meet your needs – if not complicate them. 

You don’t have to accept help from anyone else you otherwise do not trust. 

Empowerment is about becoming yourself – who you deeply are inside. 

Whether that includes transitioning gender or following a deep passion no matter how obscure, the best person you can be is yourself. 

So long as it you don’t harm others, people will support you. 

Of course, sometimes refusal isn’t always possible for various reasons – but it damn well should be. And someday, you will be able to refuse and empower yourself.

Empowerment is about controlling your narrative. 

It is understandable that you repress who you are around dangerous people – that says nothing about you but a lot about them. 

You can tell people as much or as little as you like about what happened. 

Sometimes being open and outspoken about the need for change is right for you. If not, that is OK. 

Sometimes processing the trauma privately and not speaking much about it going forward may also be right for you. 

This also extends to when they are on their deathbed. You don’t need to go back and see them one more time to “make amends.” You don’t even need to write about them indirectly. 

When said people die, you can speak ill of them as much as you like. You aren’t obliged to pander to the idea of “not speaking ill of the dead” to make others feel comfortable. 

They harmed you and you have every right to tell your story. You owe them absolutely nothing.

This also applies if they themselves are a survivor too.

This means they have to realize themselves the damage they’ve done as a result of their trauma and take steps to fix it.

They may take steps to redeem themselves as much as possible, but ultimately nothing will undo the harm they’ve done to you (and anyone else they’ve harmed you may not be aware of).

It’s ok to be sympathetic towards them if that’s how you feel – trauma is complicated.

But you can keep them out of your life for any reason – including that no contact may be the only way to be free of their harm.

Again, you owe them absolutely nothing. Abusers who are genuinely remorseful will understand that they have to live with the consequences of what they’ve done.

This includes parents, romantic partners and other close family and/or friends.

You are empowered and have a long, fulfilling life ahead.

Kind regards, 

Milla xx 

P.S. I recently set up a crowdfunder so I can start my medical transition privately. Please consider donating to it if you have something to spare. You can view it here. If not, no worries. Thank you so much for reading! 


I’m 23 and Finally Free

Hi all,  

Today’s post is going to be a ramble because as of today, I have now turned 23. Subsequently, what was one of the hardest years of my life has come to a close. Now I can actually look towards my future.  

I am finally making progress in solving my homelessness situation – and at the time of writing, in more suitable temporary accommodation. I am also able to start thinking about employment and reaching out to the community properly.  

That said, one other thought that comes to mind is this realisation. I should have been in this position last year. Let me contextualise it with an anecdote I haven’t discussed before – my 22nd birthday day the previous year.  

That day, I got up really early for a job interview that I attended via a long train commute. I didn’t get the job, but it was a good experience nonetheless. At the time, I was still stuck at my abusers’ home and believed that getting a job was my only viable way out.  

My situation was deteriorating, and it was only a matter of time before I was kicked out. Hence, I had to get a job as soon as possible because nobody would house me. I also had no presents nor cards from my abusers as they refused to get me anything – as did the family members that they manipulated against me. So not much of a birthday.  

Some reasons why this is significant to me is that last year:  

  • I wasn’t able to think properly about my future in any way, nor access the right support to do this, such as mentoring.
  • My focus was forcibly narrowed to getting a new place to live in any way possible.
  • Nor was I able to work out precisely what my support needs were. This is due to the toxic negativity I had, that assumed I could never work or live on my own. 
  • I also wasn’t able to work out what would be best for me regarding careers. All I knew is that I would need to move to a more accessible area for the best jobs and support. 
  • I wasn’t able to access mental health support for what I was going through, nor access any form of peer support.  

I wasn’t able to have a life, basically. I was trapped and disabled by the toxic environment around me.  

The difference between then and now is that I can now adequately address all of the above.  

This is because I’m free. I can finally get all of this addressed and more, such as: 

  • Medically transitioning
  • Reaching out to other people in the local community
  • Rebuilding my career
  • Working towards my long-term ambitions to migrate out of the U.K. permanently 

I am also accessing support and have developed a thick skin and matured as a result of my experiences. 

So today, I’ll be spending the day to myself and probably play games, do some writing and catch up with some friends online. And honestly, I’m OK with that. Compared to last year, this is far better. It’s better to be alone and happy than surrounded by people who don’t care about your wellbeing.  

My life is so much better now.  

I’m 23 and finally free. Here’s to a year of freedom and finally finding my feet as an adult.  

Milla xx  

P.S. I recently set up a crowdfunder so I can start my medical transition privately. Please consider donating to it if you have something to spare. You can view it here.

What to Know When Accessing Services for the First Time

Featured image description: White text on a pink background that says: “What to Know When Accessing Services for the First Time”. The words “Accessing Services” are larger and curved upwards like a smile. On the right is the a logo for the blog ,”Trans Autistic Feminist” (a gold neurodiversity helix on a black trans symbol) with the blog name in purple.

Content warning for discussion of systematic ableism, gaslighting

Hi all,

Navigating services in 2020 is a huge challenge, as people who have been following politics and issues concerning marginalised people will be aware of. Here are some things to know when navigating services as a multiply marginalised person. This article is aimed primarily at people who need to access support for the first time and have no previous experience dealing with it first hand.

Know what you are getting yourself into.

People who engage services often have no other choice. Hence, due to how dire the situation is with services, it is often seen as a last resort. This will affect how much of a priority you are seen as by services – and this is even further complicated by those with additional support needs or marginalisations. Hence, you need to do research in relation to how said services treat people who fit your marginalisations. This is so you know where to go and where to avoid. Likewise, research local laws such as the UK’s Equality Act 2010 so you can understand your rights regarding what you need help with.

Sites of large organisations are a good place to start, as they explain relevant laws and concepts in plain English and other language equivalents. However, other recommend sources are actually service users as well as user-led organisations. This is because they can explain the situation on the ground away from positive marketing and any secret backroom deals major funders may place on services (this is one reason the UK’s largest disability charities do not hold the DWP to account properly).

There will be a lot of waiting and a lot of rejections

Before I go on, I want to clarify that the behaviours outlined by services below is NOTHING personal against the users by the service providers in many cases. Many staff members want to help, but the awful process of accessing support is the result of government policy that forces them to make difficult decisions on who gets help. It also means they often wait until peoples circumstances get worse before they will help. Service users basically need to answer the following question implicitly asked by each service:

“Why do we have to help? Why can’t anybody else?”

It will be a fight to get anywhere. This will drag out far longer than necessary, so don’t set yourself an expectation of a date where you hope you have what you need. This is because it is very likely what you need won’t happen promptly at best.

Why do services reject people?

Services will often reject people for many reasons. A lot of it will come down to trying to reduce their workload so they don’t have to deal with as many people as the funding they have doesn’t allow it. Hence service users need to keep persisting as much as possible. Rejections usually despite good intentions as often services just cannot help somebody properly, however bigotry is sometimes the case. Some ways these rejections happen include:

  • Misinterpreting the law on purpose to justify gatekeeping – this is where services relying on service users not understanding the law or having the energy to fight back even when they do understand it. One example is not giving somebody the correct priority for a service, such as denying emergency accommodation to somebody that is sofa surfing and could be on the streets at anytime.
  • Citing requirements not made clear before initial contact – This is where sometimes a service user discloses something that leads the service to state that they can’t help someone regardless of how true it is. This is even when conversations initially go well, and support is promised. I had this happen repeatedly when I tried to access services, usually after I disclosed that I was homeless. Another scenario is when your eligibility criteria is changed over time, following a separate or related appointment that someone is told to report feedback on. This also happened to me. It was not made clear to me that anything said at the appointment could affect my elgibility. Because it was, I was ejected from the service with no chance of appeal. Services can get around this by being more clear at the beginning at the request, however I suspect they don’t do this partially because the ambiguity allows them to dodge accountability.
  • Nitpicking – this is where they purposely reject people for very minor reasons or for how they think could react in situations very unlikely to happen. Or if they do, they do not consider that people already have action plans to counteract them nor attempt to find out before rejection.
  • Nonsense – this is basically where services can make up reasons to justify their rejections that is legal to do, but is obviously nonsense to the service user. One example is blaming an autistic person’s mental illness on them being autistic to deny counselling and discharge them, when this is untrue. They know it doesn’t matter if its lies, as long as it’s legal to do so they will get away with it.
  • Not responding to initial contact or following up (ie. A callback) – I am told this is essentially a face-saving act for the service, so that services indirectly let people down rather than have to deal with bad reactions from people when they know they are not eligible. Other times emails, calls etc. are genuinely forgotten about due to workload, but then by the time people find it again, they decide its not worth addressing due to how long it has sat there.

Accessibility needs will often not be met

Services will wrongly assume that every person can use the phone and act accordingly. That means some of the most vulnerable people will struggle to access services. You will often have to repeat your access needs to people countless times before they finally understand and respect them. This is discrimination but like with rejections, services will often get away with it. What I did to mitigate this was write multiple paragraphs in my email signature to pre-emptively stop these conversations. While nobody should have to take steps like this, it works.

You will be forced to repeat your history which each new service you talk to

Many services will have their own assessment proceedures that staff at these services have to follow, which at best is incredibly annoying. This is because the assessments between each service are broadly the same in content, even though what each service provides can differ significantly especially when services are specifially for certain groups (ie. Many services for people my age will often have the following specialisms – Young people, Women, LGBTQ+, Trans-only, People of Colour, Asian, Muslims, Disability, Neurodivergent).

Unfortunately, a major downside of this means reliving trauma as people will not simply just reuse existing information for their own, they must follow the proceedures they have and ask for entirely new recounts of the same information. What I did to help mitigate this was to write an extensive summary of my situation and supplied that to help me communicate what I needed to and give them evidence to use for their assessment.

A lot of mainstream advice is cookie cutter, irrespective of marginalisations and individual needs

Systematic bigotry exists everywhere and default advice in the Western world centres the perspectives of white abled neurotypical cishet men. This is subconscious, because most people are uninformed on how suitable or not their advice. Usually it is because they are trained to give said stock advice and signposting . Hence, be prepared to hear the same well-meaning advice from services and for them to be unable to help you when you point out how it isn’t suitable. At it’s worst, it is unsolicited advice that is both deeply triggering and unsuitable especially as trauma stacks up over time. It is also often done when people are being rejected from services.

Some examples:

  • Telling a homeless people who has never managed a tenancy before they can go private as an option and enclosing a bunch of documents meant to help them on their way, but not helping them understand
  • Sending a list of phone numbers to call regarding mental health support, even though this doesn’t work for everyone and isn’t accessible
  • Urging people to contact the police so they can deal with abusers criminally, even though for many minority groups especially black people, this is not viable.
  • Telling disabled people to “chase up” services, even though said service contact methods are inaccessible and people there don’t respond to messages or call back
  • Encouraging autistic and LGBTQ+ people to “change who they are,” thinking it will help, despite lots of evidence to the contrary

This is why I mentioned getting facts from service users and user led orgs earlier as part of your research.

Some services gaslight to ignore systematic barriers

This is likely the most triggering pat of the article for many, so this is it’s own section. Services can also act in a way that is dismissive of legitimate systematic barriers towards marginalised groups when said cookie cutter advice from above is challenged. This is when services dismiss real and valid issues that affect a whole group as somebody’s personal fears or anxiety. Examples include:

  • Why BAME and black people do not trust the police and avoid all non-essential engagement
  • Why disabled people do not trust social security offices or doctors, so often do not get what they’re entitled to to survive
  • Why reaching out for mental health support can be dangerous for autistic and other neurodivergent people
  • Why a trans person outing themselves to single gender services like refuges can be dangerous

The way services will say it indirectly is “You feel that [this systematic barrier/danger] is an issue, but we don’t accept this. We will claim that all users are required to engage with [said systematic barrier/danger] regardless of personal or systematic barriers.” This is an attempt to absolve themselves of any responsibility of educating themselves and addressing their unconscious biases, but in reality signifies to service users they are not to be trusted. It is a warning sign of bad support. Do not engage services that do this where possible.

You may have to take drastic action upon being failed, including relocation to places where specialist support is

Outside of major cities (Like London, Glasgow and Manchester in the UK), there is little support for marginalised groups. Some support exists almost everywhere in developed countries, but in more rural, right-wing areas it is next to nonexistant. Only a few places exist across those areas and with very limited supply. This also factors into the gatekeeping and barriers marginalised people face in these areas, where service staff tend to believe myths perpetrated by the right. Hence, vulnerable people are not taken seriously and trauma is often compounded. Sometimes situations become unsustainable like mine was and disengaging from local services and/or relocating to try elsewhere are the only viable options left. Only once marginalised people move to a more understanding area after being badly failed, do they close in on the help they need. This is something I anecdotally heard is very common from providers regarding housing and LGBTQ+ support.

Do not face this alone

Trying to access services is EXHAUSTING. I almost gave up a few times myself, but managed to keep at it due to seeking help, such as:

  • Peer support from friends, both in person and over the internet. This can be directly elated to solving the situation or moral support.
  • Advocacy services. Many organisations do this in somecapacity such as Shelter, the LGBT Foundation and many user led groups have professionals that will help advocate for you for free.
  • Mental health support, mostly self-help support and techniques while more proper support is put in place, such as writing and gaming.

Self care is so important

It’s OK to disengage from the situation sometimes. It’s OK to take steps to look after yourself, such as engaging in a hobby sometimes. It is OK to buy yourself some treats when and where you have the money. It’s OK if you have to give up with or disengage from certain organisations that harm where it is feasible. You will get there.

I hope this series of tips will help you navigate the mess that are services.

Milla xx

P.S. If you enjoyed this post and have the financial means to do so, please consider sending a donation to me on my Ko-fi to help me stabilise my life and start my medical transition. If not, no worries. Thank you so much for reading!

Gender Euphoria: How Transitioning Affects Autistic Related Passions

Featured image description: White text on a pink background that says: “Gender Euphoria: How Transitioning Affects Autistic Related Passions”. On the right is the a logo for the blog ,”Trans Autistic Feminist” (a gold neurodiversity helix on a black trans symbol) with the blog name in purple.

Content warning: gender dysphoria, trauma discussion, toxic masculinity, gamerTM culture discussion, radicalisation mention

Hi all,

Today I am going to talk about an aspect of transitioning and getting lived experience that I haven’t talked about much on here. Namely, how it changes hobbies and passions (aka what many people describe as “special interests” in autistic people) usually for the better.

Transitioning and hobbies

There was something regarding hobbies that I was told after coming out, which I imagine is a fairly common thing told to freshly cracked eggs. This idea is that people who come out should drop all previous things that were associated with them pre-transition, including hobbies. This would be because of shame over who they were. Hence, to be themselves they need to essentially conform to gender based stereotypes.
I don’t need to explain the problems with gender stereotypes and putting hobbies into boxes. However before I go on to the positives regarding hobbies and transitioning, the issue with this idea need explaining. Namely that:

It misunderstands the trauma trans people have

Generally, a lot of the trauma trans people have regarding their hobbies stem as a result of how they engage with said hobbies. Namely, to try to suppress their true gender identity whether they realise it or not. The hobbies themselves aren’t necessarily the issue.

For a lot of trans people, before they come out they try to live the assigned role they were given. I find it difficult to describe without using the wording I used when I tried to do this, so I’ll use it. Namely, a quest to “find a masculine identity I [was] comfortable with.” Often this does include conforming to gender stereotypes sometimes to extreme ends.

Trauma can be compounded by this for many possible reasons like:

  • Realising that it isn’t solving the underlying distress (only transitioning does that).
  • How people perceive said trans person engaging with said hobbies can be distressing
  • Becoming toxic and harmful in the process through social circles, which need to be unpacked (a lot of trans women have had anti-SJW/alt right and/or incel phases, even if they don’t truly believe the argument. However, many go along with them to fit in)
  • When they discover they’ve internalised a lot of transphobic myths from wider society and needing to unpack them
  • All of the above can be complicated when somebody practices hyper masculinity or hyper femininity as a result
  • Likewise when other intersections are involved, such as disability and race

Changing their interests whether pre or post transition by itself will usually only help trans people when it is to:

  • Alleviate dysphoria
  • Increase euphoria
  • Heal from trauma
  • Aid personal safety

In longer words, it can be a new beginning in being true to themselves. Going “OK I didn’t actually like this. What do I actually like? Who am I really? How can I express myself in a genuine way?” It means unpacking the trauma and unconscious bigotry they acquired over time. It means looking deep into themselves and self-reflecting honestly. It also means working out a practical plan of action on taking steps to move forward and become themselves. This is why supportive therapy can be very beneficial for many.

How it could impact trans autistic people

For an autistic person, this is even more doubly important. Passions are often something that is an integral part of our identity and being told to change it completely is an impossible request.

Often our best chances of having a successful career stem from our passions. Hence, to just abandon them can be further damaging as we can lose our sense of purpose and direction and put us at risk of mental harm (or even radicalisation to the far right especially for cis autistic men.)

Additionally, engaging in passions can be very helpful for sensory regulation in a world that is hostile towards autistic people and even more hostile to trans autistic people. Having something reliable to fall back on to help deal with the world helps mitigate meltdowns and can be life saving.

Additionally, ADHD related hyper focusing can also factor into this especially when it makes it easy for time to pass. This can greatly boost enjoyment of passions and sustain mental health. This is especially important as due to both ableism and transphobia, autistic trans people are more likely to be unemployed, have comorbid mental illnesses and/or untreated gender dysphoria.

Redirecting passions to become more euphoric

A way around this is to redirect energy into more inclusive and euphoric aspects of hobbies. Let me contextualise all the above using my passion for video games:

Over the last year or so, I’ve gravitated more towards casual games aimed primarily at women (such as Animal Crossing, Rune Factory and otome visual novels). I play more “core games” on lower difficulties such as Xenoblade Chronicles, embrace accessibility features and becoming a mostly handheld-only gamer gal. This has the very pleasant side effect of being quite euphoric and validating. It is telling me that “Yes I am feminine and I am enjoying what I deprived myself of prior to coming out.” Said games being feminine is seen that way by wider society. Subsequently I enjoy gaming a lot more than I used to and complete more titles. This includes side content within longer RPGs that I would previously skip.

It wasn’t always this way though. Before I came out, I had unknowingly internalised toxic gamer(TM) culture while trying to feel comfortable in my assigned gender. This included playing games, including problematic moe crap, on the default or higher difficulty because it was “the way it’s meant to be played.” I frequently dropped games mid way through due as a result and avoided games with “politics” in them. This was compounded by my attempt to crack games journalism professionally via a site that enabled this toxicity. This meant a lot of trauma built up over time. I wasn’t enjoying my hobby, nor truly belonged with a community of bigots. Because gaming was my passion, I couldn’t abandon it contrary to the myth mentioned.

I redirected my passion into something positive by:

  • Be honest with myself about what I actually felt about my gaming hobbies and took action
  • Moved myself from toxic circles into more inclusive circles
  • Allocated my gaming time and money towards said feminine games
  • Using appropriate accessibility features and lower difficulty settings
  • As the euphoria builds up and continues to affirm, past trauma begins to heal and I relearned to enjoy my passion
  • Interest in toxic circles and problematic moe games decline
  • Abandoned games journalism as a career, but would like to do gaming content on my terms down the line
  • Developed more passions as a result, becoming a more rounded person

It is a similar process for a lot of hobbies – likewise between other trans people.

Any change that happens is out of personal choice or necessity

This is the crucial thing. When trans people make these conscious changes to their hobbies, they only do it because they want or need to. Not because society or individuals tell them to, unless its potentially detrimental to their life. We should support them in doing so, especially as for trans autistic people, passions are critical

Milla xx

P.S. If you enjoyed this post and have the financial means to do so, please consider sending a donation to me on my Ko-fi to help me stabilise my life and start my medical transition. If not, no worries. Thank you so much for reading!